Public Counsel celebrates 50 years with virtual event
In another time, Public Counsel would have held a glittering dinner to mark its 50th anniversary.
But the Los Angeles legal community wouldn't let a pandemic dampen their enthusiasm. A constellation of more than 2,500 people turned up online Tuesday night to celebrate the work of the venerable public interest law firm and contribute more than $1.7 million.
"In the 50 years it has been in existence Public Counsel has never shrunk from a challenge and it has not done so now," said the organization's president and CEO Margaret Morrow. "We have done what Public Counsel has always done. We stepped up, we reached out and we did all that we could to improve the day-to-day lives of Angelenos and people nationwide."
Morrow's opening remarks were followed by messages by the late Congressman John Lewis, who planned to speak at the event as a former William O. Douglas Award recipient; President Bill Clinton and Nancy Kannampuzha, a success story of the organization's transition age foster youth advocacy program.
"During this time, especially during the pandemic, I think one of the biggest things I have been reflecting on is where to find hope in the middle of all this... when you are watching the news and watching all these things happen look for the people that are helping. Public Counsel is one of them," Kannampuzha said. "They are there with the lifeboat saying how can we help, how can we be there and that's been Public Counsel's story in my life ever since I got involved."
"Ever since I was young I felt like the ship that is my life was sinking and having people walk alongside of me in that journey has been so helpful in helping me rebuild that ship," she added.
Additional speakers included former Attorney General Eric Holder and the organization's board chair Philip E. Cook, director of immigrants' rights Judy London, senior staff attorney Rachel Odio and director of opportunity under law Mark Rosenbaum.
Tanya M. Acker, co-host of Hot Bench and a Public Counsel board member, emceed the event.
The evening celebrated the organization's current and past work including a win for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the U.S. Supreme Court and ended with a performance by John Legend.
The singer will be honored at the September 2021 William O. Douglas Dinner.
-- Kamila Knaudt
To watch the event, go to https://youtu.be/DR1lvwB7If0